To this Wade replied that pickled fish was about all the available provision,
but that the water supply was abundant—a realistic picture of the poverty of the
Revolutionary commissariat, even at a permanent post like West Point.
As reinforcements for West Point were likely to be needed if the British
moved up the Hudson, Greene, commanding the left wing of the army, at
Tappan, was ordered to march to West Point. At three in the morning of
Tuesday, the twenty-sixth, the order reached Tappan, and the drums beat the
alarm throughout the camp. An oflicer afterwards described the scene as very
impressive—the non-commissioned officers hurrying through the company streets
and turning out the men, lights flitting here and there through the camp, and a
general sense of vague alarm and apprehension pervading. Two Pennsylvania
brigades and the Sixth Connecticut, Colonel Meigs, marched at once, and the
rest of the army was held ready to follow. The news of Arnold's defection
created intense excitement, and Greene issued an address to the army:
Treason of the blackest dye was yesterday discovered. General Arnold, who
commanded at West Point, lost to every sense of honor, of private and public obligation,
was about to deliver up that important post into the hands of the enemy. Such an event
must have given the American cause a dangerous, if not a fatal wound ; but the treason
has been timely discovered, to prevent the fatal misfortune. The providential train of
circumstances which led to it, affords the most convincing proof that the liberties of
America are the object of Divine protection. At the same time that the treason is to be
regretted, the general cannot help congratulating the army on the happy discovery. Our
enemies, despairing of carrying their point by force, are practising every base art, to effect
by bribery and corruption what they cannot accomplish in a manly way. Great honor is
due to the American army that this is the first instance of treason of the kind, where
many were to have been expected from the nature of the dispute. The brightest ornament
in the character of the American soldiers is their having been proof against all the arts and
seductions of an insidious enemy. Arnold has made his escape to the enemy, but Major
Andre, the Adjutant General in the British Army, who came out as a spy, is our prisoner.
His Excellency the Commander in Chief has arrived at West Point from Hartford,
and is no doubt taking proper measures to unravel fully so hellish a plott.
By Greene's order, the address was read by the adjutants to their respective
Arnold's letter from the Vulture was soon followed by one from Robinson,2
and was followed in its turn by one from Clinton himself.8 To Robinson,
1 The civil authorities also took cognizance of the fortunate escape. Governor Clinton issued a proclamation,
setting apart November second as a day of thanksgiving, and the occasion was universally observed.
2 Vulture, off Sinsink, September 25, 1780.
Sir,—I am this moment informed that Major Andr€, Adjutant General of his Majesty's army in
America, is detained as a prisoner by the army under your command. It is therefore incumbent on me to
inform you of the manner of his falling into your hands. He went up with a flag at the request of General
Arnold, on public business with him, and had his permit to return by land to New York. Under these
circumstances Major Andre" cannot be detained by you without the greatest violation of flags, and contrary
to the custom and usage of all nations; and as I imagine you will see this matter in the same point of view
that I do, I must desire you will order him to be set at liberty and allowed to return immediately. Every
step Major Andre took was by the advice and direction of General Arnold, even that of taking a feigned
name, and of course not liable to censure for it. I am, Sir, not forgetting our former acquaintance,
Your very humble servant,
Bav. Robinson, Col. I/jyal Americans.
His Excellency General Washington. s Letter of H. Clinton, page 47.
Click tabs to swap between content that is broken into logical sections.